Research in the land of the Bible has suffered a heavy loss in the untimely death of Yohanan Aharoni, chairman of the Department of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University. To his associates he has bequeathed the task of continuing and summarizing the achievements of his last great project, the investigation of the Biblical Negev.
Aharoni immigrated to Palestine from Germany in 1933 at the age of 14. He became one of the founding members of Kibbutz Allonim beside the Jezreel Valley, and lived there until 1947. At that time, he joined the Israel Defense Forces. After the War of Independence, in 1950, he was appointed Antiquities Inspector for Galilee, a post which he held for the next five years—and, thus, began his public archaeological career. During these years he conducted an archaeological survey of the Galilee which led to his doctoral dissertation on The Settlement of the Israelite Tribes in Upper Galilee (published in Hebrew, Jerusalem 1957). For four years thereafter he served as a staff archaeologist on the Hazor Expedition led by Yigael Yadin. At Hazor, Aharoni was in charge of Area A and uncovered the casemate wall and Solomonic gate; he was the first to date them correctly and his dating of them has now been universally accepted. Before coming to Tel Aviv University, Aharoni was Associate Professor at the Hebrew University for two years.